Common Reading

Within the pages of the Common Reading book you will find ideas, inspiration and community with your fellow honors students.

The UArizona Honors College Common Reading Program is designed to facilitate learning among first-year students around a common experience. The program is designed to encourage community building, complement curriculum, and offer opportunities for self-reflection, critical thinking, and practical application of knowledge across disciplines.

The 2020 selection is a book that we believe will resonate with the wide range of students in the Honors College.

The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú

For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Driven to understand the hard realities of the landscape he loves, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Plagued by a growing awareness of his complicity in a dehumanizing enterprise, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the full extent of the violence it wreaks, on both sides of the line.

The book will be used throughout the Catalyst course to encourage interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems. Additionally, complementary programming will be presented to address issues and themes from the book.

First-year students should plan to purchase and read the book prior to the first day of classes in the fall. By reading the book over the summer, you will be prepared to start the academic year ready to engage in discussions and complete assignments connected to the book. You will have opportunities to think about what the book means and how it might affect the way you interact with others and see the world.

Purchase the Book (ISBN-10: 0735217734; ISBN-13: 978-0735217737)


Barnes & Noble


About the author

Francisco Cantú

Meet the Author: Francisco Cantú

How this former Border Patrol agent learned to see through the eyes of those trying to cross

Francisco Cantú at the First Year Experience Conference in 2018


Further Reading

Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario

Detained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire by Margaret Regan

The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands by Margaret Regan


The Honors College Common Reading Program is designed to bring together incoming students around a common experience: reading an engaging book that will help you think about important ideas that will come up repeatedly during your first year – and probably throughout your whole life.

If you choose to participate in the Common Reading Program, you will receive a copy of the book during summer Honors Orientation. By reading the book over the summer, you will be prepared to start the academic year ready to engage in discussions at the start of the semester.


Previous Common Reading selections have included:

2019 – What the Eyes Don’t See by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

2018 – On Trails by Robert Moor

2017 – Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

2016 – Citizen by Claudia Rankine

2015 – In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

2014 – The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

2013 – Planetwalker by Francis Walker

2012 – Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle

2011 – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2010 – Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

2009 – White Gloves by John Kotre

2008 – Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

2007 – Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi